After an intense training session you need some protein in your body to KICKSTART the anabolic process.
Remember, the workout itself is a catabolic activity i.e. it breaks muscle tissue down.
So to get out of that catabolic state and into an anabolic one as quickly as possible, we need protein.
Liquid protein works best as it is absorbed into the body quickest, and whey is also best because it’s the highest quality protein on the planet (as I discussed in The Top 5 Protein Sources for Building Muscle).
But how much post-workout protein do you really need?
My standard answer is 40g protein. Without seeing someone in person or knowing anything about them, that’s my usual recommendation. I know when I do this I may be overestimating for some people, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’d rather give them a few extra grams than too few to ensure that they build all the muscle they can.
However, the formula I created to more accurately work this out goes as follows…
— Body weight divided by 4.5 —
So a 180lb guy will take 40g protein (180/4.5 = 40).
A person at 120lbs only needs 27g, and someone at 220 will take 49g.
PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT mean 40g of whey powder, since no whey is 100% protein. A whey protein concentrate is usually around 80% protein. So to get 40g protein you need to be putting 50g of powder into your cup. And whey protein isolate at around 90% protein will require ~45g whey.
By the way, it’s not set in stone that you start consuming this shake once the workout has completed. You could start small sips half-way through your session to get some of that much-needed protein into your system.
Remember whey in water will absorb into your system at the rate of around 10g per hour, so 40g whey protein will last you around 4 hours (max).
The best thing you can do next is consume a meal within 3 hours of the training finishing and I’ve already created the best post-workout meal for you here.
By the way, click here if you need to know the total amount of protein you need per day to build maximum muscle.
And no you don’t need to be dumping sugar/dextrose into that post-workout shake. I’ve outlined the scientific reasons behind this in this article. Post-workout carbs don’t increase protein synthesis, they don’t stop muscle breakdown, and worst of all, it’ll stop your body burning fat (fat oxidation) for energy by using the carbs instead.
So immediately after those intense THT workouts, take ~40g protein (about 50g whey by weight) along with 5g creatine monohydrate.
Download the free THT workout here…
Here are the proteins I recommend:
In the USA get Optimum Nutrition Whey. In Europe get Impact Whey from MyProtein.
And I recommend this Creatine: In America, get this quality, cheap creatine here. And in Europe, you can get a fantastic (and cheap) creatine here.
NOTE: It makes no difference if you’re cutting or bulking. This is all the protein your body needs and can use in this period. No extra (or no less) is needed.
Got any questions? Talk to me below…
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Thanks! Turns out I was taking a full 10g less than I should. I’ll try this today after my workout and report back!
@Sean. Great 😀 Glad I could clear that up for you!
My weekday early morning routine is 5g BCAA powder with your FANTASTIC N.O. Explode recipe pre-workout followed by 60-70g whey protein shake mixed with ~60ml heavy cream post-workout. Don’t have time to eat a full meal for about the next 5-6 hours — think that’s enough to tide me over without jeopardizing any gains? 6 feet, 230lbs, 15-17% body fat. Thanks!
Great article bro as usual….i was hoping you’d do an article on intermittent fasting soon (feel free to shout my out in it lol) but i been doing it recently and seems ok….I dont know if its a U.S. thing and you guys from U.K. dont really mess with IF but if you do id love to hear your thoughts….thanks!
@Mike. What I’d want you to do there is take half that post-workout protein with water (no cream) and then the other half with the cream at least an hour later. Because the cream will slow the absorption of the protein and we don’t want that immediately after a workout. Apart from that, you’re good 🙂
@Walt. Yeah I don’t think it’s as popular over here. It just depends on how long the fast is. And how high in protein the last meal was before the fast. I’d rather do a “fat flush” from Total Six Pack Abs and the Jacked N Ripped program. Safer in terms of muscle, coupled with fat loss. But I’m not against IF in principle if it’s done right.
I’m a fan of you from the Netherlands !
I’m a litte guessing what to take pre- during and post-workout at the moment, wich of the following choiches would you make:
150ml Orange Juice
6gram citruline malate
50ml Orange Juice
6gram citrulline malate
One large pre-during-post workout shake wich contains:
Any other advise should be nice !!
Thnks in advance
Love your website, I agree with everything aswell as my coach.
But I got one question, which my coach is not sure about.
I get really dizzy and sleepy 1 hr after workouts
My post is ON Hydro Whey ( it’s great for me as I have IBS) and I eat a banana ( sometimes) . If I eat carbs I feel ok , but a hour latter feel dizzy , even if I have my meal I feel dizzy.
Not sure why it’s happing, any ideas?
@Hammers99. Hey. Good to see I’ve some fans in the Netherlands 🙂 First of all, the fruit juice has to go. It’s not healthy. There’s as much sugar in them as soda. Eat your fruit. You get much much less sugar in an orange than a glass of orange juice, plus nature wraps it in fiber so it absorbs slowly. Don’t buy it any more.
You can get all the details on this cocktail here https://musclehack.com/cheapest-no-xplode-ever-how-to-make-your-own/
As Above. 40g whey. 5g creatine. Optional – 5g L-glutamine.
Using more than 2g beta-alanine per day won’t do anything extra and will just be a waste of money.
Hope that helps 🙂
@Dennis. Sounds more like an empty stomach. Are you training first thing in the morning?
Thanks Mark for the fast response!
A few questions about your answer:
I train later in the evening and the post workout shake is my last meal thats why i added the Casein, to stay anabolic in nighttime! Do you think the casein is a wate of money to?
A little note on the orange juice:
I take this because of the horrible taste of the citrulline malate and because i heard that it wil speed up the uptake of the supplements
Do you think the taurine is a waste of money to? I thought it is usefull to take it together with beta alanine.
Thanks in advance
PS: i just finished 8weeks of Total Six Pack Abs and see my abs for the first time in my live!!! thank you for that
@Hammers99. Yes I don’t believe in the need for casein since solid food protein breaks down so slowly. A meal with protein, carbs and fat will break down at 3-5g protein per hour, so just eat. Have half your protein after your workout with water, then eat the other half with carbs and fat.
I would ditch the taurine and stick to the beta alanine. People are advising the juice because insulin can help in transport, but that’s for creatine.
But there are 2 problems anyway. First, you can get all the insulin response you need for this from protein, no carbs. Second, even if you were to take a carb it would be glucose, not fruit juice as fruit juice is 50% fructose, which causes no insulin release. But you don’t need it anyway for your beta alanine and take your creatine after your training with whey (the whey will create all the insulin response you need and you can still burn a little fat).
Very helpful information i’m gonna switch it all to the musclehack style
I apologize this doesn’t belong here, but not sure where else I could ask you this.
I was just reading both articles on MANS (first) and then read GLAD. GLAD seems to fly in the face of MANS, so I am wondering which diet you personally follow and prefer for building muscle? Most bodybuilders who compete eat high carb (GLAD) when they bulk and then reduce carbs (MANS) when they cut. I have personally been following Anabolic Diet (MANS) for about 7 weeks now and for the first time in 25 years of my life attained abs. I eat like crazy during the weekend with a lot of junk carbs (need to cut that out) and extremely strict (~20 grams of carbs/day and 196g protein) throughout the week with a 500-700 calorie deficit. Obviously almost all my lifts went down but I love the diet and discipline of it big time, especially since I can look forward to Friday all week since I eat a lot of ice cream that day to celebrate the week (while getting leaner or staying the same every week). I wouldnt mind staying on this kind of diet forever as for me it is very sustainable. So a couple questions total:
1. Do you know if a Carb cycling approach (MANS) is healthy for the body in the long run, with all the stress it goes through during carb up and lack of homeostasis?
2. If I want to bulk with MANS after I get to desired bodyfat %, should my strength go back up when I train since I’m not having carbs for 5.5 days? Of course I would be in a calorie surplus all of the time in this case.
3. Is your training performance, and thus muscle gains, better on GLAD or MANS? I am guessing GLAD, but I want to hear it from a man who actually has experience.
4. Refeed days are only meant for CUTS right? Do refeed days make sense during a bulk?
@Andrew S. First, congrats on your success with MANS and getting your abs 🙂
(1) There is no problem long term with a cyclical ketogenic diet. Keto diets are fine in themselves and all we are doing is introducing some carbs once a week to replace lost glycogen.
(2) Oh yes you’re strength will shoot back up. It’s a very anabolic diet.
(3) In my THT training book I say, “They [GLAD and MANS] both work equally effectively; you simply pick which one you’d like to do based on the type of foods you like to eat” . I’ve done both, they are equally effective. Download THT if you haven’t done so yet.
(4) Carbing up is for bulking too. The main purpose is to fill our muscles full with glycogen (from carbs) again. This will help us work at the required intensity during the week and achieve progressive overload.
Hope that helps,
Hi Mark. I weigh 270, my height is 6’4″. Body fat is around 15-20 percent. I need 270 grams of protein a day. Is it possible for my body to even process that amount of protein in a day?
I do train in the mornings. @ 9:30
Meal one at 7 am eggs (4) 30g raw oats cooked
In water, and 300mls of milk
That keeps me full up until I finish workout which is 60min maximum of superseting.
Than I’ll have post shake
And 45min I’ll have my post meal
Which is 200g of chicken breast and 1 cup of cooked rice with cup of mix leaves.
I m 93 kg body fat at 29% age 24
Goal lose fat build a lot of lean natural mass
And enter competitions in Australia (Asia pacific) ANB.
Not sure why this dizzness happens. Most of my
Energy levels should have be replace.
But thought I eat 170g of protein and 120 carbs
Mark one last question about your answer yesterday:
“Have half your protein after your workout with water, then eat the other half with carbs and fat”
I train late in the evening and my post workout shake is the last thing i drink (around 9:30), with this i’m full until i’m going to sleep (around 11) so i don’t eat anyting else. What are you suggesting with the above answer:
immediatly after workout: 20gr whey+supplements in water
when i’m at home 20gr whey+full fat milk
immediatly after workout: 20gr whey+supplements in water
when i’m at home 20gr whey+dextrose and nuts or so
immediatly after workout: 20gr whey+supplements in water
when i’m at home 20gr protein, carbs and fat from real food
Thank you for the support !
@Sean. You should work out your protein needs according to your lean body mass only using the formula in this post https://musclehack.com/how-much-protein-is-needed-to-build-muscle/ . Try using 20% body fat and see what figure you get.
@Dennis. You’re basically on 1600 cals every day for a guy that weighs over 200lbs. That probably explains the dizziness, especially if you’ve been eating like that for a while now. When cutting you have to gradually reduce caloric intake, and even if you did, you might never have needed to go as low as 1600. Also, at such a low calorie level for a guy your size, 170g protein is not enough. You may start to lose muscle. I don’t want to give you a sales pitch, but you should check out my Total Six Pack Abs book for a scientific approach to effective cutting. If you do decide to do that program, take 2 weeks off from cutting and eat at maintenance levels to allow your metabolism to reset first.
@Hammers99. You could have 20g whey during your workout, so by the time the workout is over, you have finished your shake. When you get home, make a small solid-food meal with protein, carbs, and fat. Like a tortilla wrap with chicken and cheese, or a sandwich or something like that. It needs to be solid food to break down slowly through the night.
I take it that could be the problem .
Will do look into the program.
Fantastic Reminder !
Really loved the last part ! Hope to see more posts from you after september ! I missing your weekly muscle stimulation !
I Would love to read an article about how to develop square shoulders, meaning to leave traps alone. Unfortunately I’ve developed a “triangular” form (big traps) which i don’t like at all, even without doing trap exercises….
@spacea. Do overhead barbell presses, seated overhead dumbbell presses, and really focus on side lateral raises to being out the width/side head of your deltoids.